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Isla Gordon (Early Years Principal, Campus des Nations)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Isla_Gordon

What is your role and how long have you been at Ecolint?
Currently I am the Early Years Principal at the Campus des Nations - Pregny site. I was also a student at La Châtaigneraie from 1980 to 1985  and joined Ecolint as a teacher in 1999. From 2004 to 2014 I had roles as Assistant Principal and PYP Coordinator, before becoming Principal at Pregny in 2017.

What has been your greatest challenge as a principal, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
I think that each Ecolint family and staff member’s experience of COVID19 school closure has been unique. The school had to move to distance learning from one day to the next and staff had to adapt quickly to providing a new version of school for families. Families in turn had to adapt quickly to make time during their days to support their children at home, whilst often juggling other responsibilities, including professional ones.  In fact, many of our Ecolint staff had to teach from home whilst looking after young children. Though some enjoyed aspects of the confinement experience, it was also stressful for many.
As a school leadership team, we were not always aware of how people were getting on as we could not necessarily see, even virtually, our colleagues, students and families on a daily basis. It was challenging to know whether someone might need help or support. We did make sure we had a system for getting in touch with colleagues, particularly those living at home alone, as well as online ‘drop-in time’ for families.

What have you learned during this time?
I think we are still very much in the midst of learning to work and live with COVID-19 and there has been little time to stand back and fully reflect on what we have learnt! What I do know is that the team here at Pregny has been incredibly professional and I have witnessed how quickly as a staff we can respond, adapt and change in the face of a crisis. I was also initially concerned that the requirements for technology to cope with the demands for providing our remote learning programme might not work owing to the numbers across the globe needing to use it at the same time! However, I learnt that it was fine and we have seen how quickly our youngest of students have developed their skills in using it!

How do you think Covid-19 will change our education system?
Teaching IB programmes, ongoing investment in professional development, reflection, change and openness to new ideas has always been a constant at Ecolint.
With the impact of the recent COVID19 school closure, it is exciting to see discussions on online forums between educators talking about what schools should consider changing post-COVID.  IB exams this year were cancelled and students will still receive diplomas based on other aspects of their learning.
Just last week we reopened school and have had to re-organised our teaching teams, having each team focus on a specific group of students. We have also staggered the start and the end of the school day to allow for more fluidity for people arriving and leaving school at a time. We are providing ongoing options for distance learning for students who have had to stay at home. These are just some concrete examples of new experiences for us to consider that could become a new ‘normal’ for schools in the future.

Any new books, musicians, artists, or hobby you discovered and would recommend during this time?
At Pregny, we set up a ‘service minimum d’accueil’ for Ecolint children whose parents work in the healthcare field or had other COVID-19 related professional responsibilities. As well as supporting Pregny moving to remote learning, I also set up the service d’accueil, and hence spent my days at school. There was not much time left in a day to learn a new hobby, but I did enjoy getting into the garden to do some weeding and knitted a few hats whilst at home during the Spring school break!

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